Craft Distillery Proves Startups Can Be a Family Affair

The smell is potent. It’s apparent as soon as you walk in. The tinge of distilled mash is unavoidable, and a pleasant reminder that this building is more than just a beautiful space that people now host weddings and events in. It’s also a startup. A startup craft distillery, that is.

When Damian Garcia, and his three other siblings decided on the idea of starting a distillery in Kansas back in 2010, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

“First, we knew if we wanted to do whiskey, it would be at least two years before any product would be ready,” Damian, director of sales and marketing, said. “And secondly, if we wanted to be a place that made spirits and allowed people to taste them at our facility, there were some laws we’d have to fight through first.”

First things first, how do you bring in capital while you’re waiting on your product to reach completion? The answer came in two forms. Master distiller and brother Patrick Garcia knew the whiskey would be a long road, so in the meantime Dark Horse created another spirit to be their first product–this one on the lighter side. Dark Horse released Ryder Vodka, liquor that doesn’t take near the time of bourbon. Next up was a try at something a bit daring. Ever heard of a white whiskey? While not as common, Dark Horse took a turn at bottling their Long Shot White Whiskey. This liquor is clear and sits in a barrel a mere 24 hours, allowing it to be called whiskey. So while they waited for their prized products to finish, the siblings pushed out their other spirits to local distributors and restaurants in hopes of making a name for themselves in Kansas City.